The Americans and Russians could soon face competition in space from the Chinese. China has launched its latest carrier rocket, which is an important part of its plan to build a space station of its own. The state-run news agency Xinhua confirms this. It's the Long March-5B rocket and it blasted off from the dedicated launch center. Its purpose was to set the pace for building the space station.

The rocket launched an unmanned prototype spacecraft along with a cargo return capsule into orbit and the team did it successfully. Probably, it added to the confidence-level of those associated with the project.

China has already landed its probe on the far side of the Moon, which no other country has done. It was a new idea and opened up new avenues of knowledge. In today’s world, each country wants to leave its mark in the field of space research and China is no exception.

CNN says the Long March-5B rocket is an updated version of the Long March-5 and can carry an enormous amount of payload into low-Earth orbit. It is capable of carrying space station modules into orbit.

Wang Jue, a senior official on the project, reveals that it has been under development for nearly a decade. Xinhua adds that the structure is simple and ensures greater reliability over multi-stage rockets.

China has Mars in its sight

Chief designer Li Dong explained to Xinhua that the Long March-5B rocket is equipped with technology that can help it to adjust various parameters on a continuous basis.

China has its sights on Mars and it expects to use the experience gained on Long March-5B to develop a heavy-lift launch vehicle. This will be required for the subsequent mission to Mars.

CNN makes mention of the plans of China vis-à-vis its Moon and Mars missions.

It has two missions lined up before the end of the year. The Long March-5 rocket could launch the country’s first Mars probe. Simultaneously, the Chang'e-5 lunar probe will begin the task of collecting samples from the moon and send them to Earth for further studies. China is a late starter because it was only in 2003 it conducted its first manned space flight. NASA had a sizeable lead, but the Chinese have accelerated their space program. They are determined to prove their mettle and could have a permanent Chinese space station by 2022 with a second person on the moon by 2030.

About the space station

The Guardian provided some information about China's space station. There is already the International Space Station that has been serving the cause of science.

America and Russia are partners with some other countries in this joint venture. However, the Chinese version could cater to its own requirements. The name of its space station is Tiangong. It translates into Heavenly Palace.

Assembly work on this could commence this year and be completed by 2022. There will be three modules to accommodate living and working quarters apart from two annexes for scientific experiments. China already has a lunar rover on the Moon exploring the dark or unseen side. It has covered about 450 meters (492 yards) so far and China’s plans include sending an astronaut to the Moon within a decade and build a base on the alien soil. Sending a probe to Mars is also on its agenda.

The ambitious plans of China

China realized that the future lies in going beyond the boundaries of the Earth. It is a late starter but its determination could surprise many stalwarts. In fact, China could occupy space on the moon ahead of others like America or Russia. Interestingly, in 2019, NASA expressed its willingness to have a joint mission with China. It related to steps that China took for exploring the dark side of the moon. That area on the moon could be rich in useful minerals and natural resources. Renewable Energy and artificial intelligence will play vital roles to keep the setups working on alien soils.